Flu season begins in Rochester; CDC warns vaccine may be no good
(THE MED CITY BEAT) - Flu season is off to an early start in Rochester.
Olmsted County Public Health reports 19 schools in Rochester are reporting higher rates of absentees due to symptoms associated with influenza. Both Rochester's Mayo Clinic and Olmsted County Medical Center say are also seeing a spike in the number of flu cases.
"There has been a definite increase in the number of influenza cases in the past few days," said Dr. Priya Sampathkumar, a Mayo Clinic infectious disease specialist, according to a Post-Bulletin report. "Most have been in the outpatient setting, also a few hospitalizations for flu. This is consistent with increased flu activity across the state."
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. According to the CDC's website, It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
Health officials warned this week that the vaccine may not be as effective this year. The CDC says the vaccine does not protect well against the dominant strain seen most commonly so far this year.
“While the vaccine’s ability to protect against drifted H3N2 viruses this season may be reduced, we are still strongly recommending vaccination,” said Joseph Bresee, M.D., Chief of the Influenza Epidemiology and Prevention Branch at CDC. “Vaccination has been found to provide some protection against drifted viruses in past seasons. Also, vaccination will offer protection against other flu viruses that may become more common later in the season.”
The Mayo Clinic says the following people are at a higher risk of developing flu complications:
- Young children
- Adults older than 65
- Pregnant women
- People with weakened immune systems
- People who have chronic illnesses
For more information about the flu's symptoms and treatments, visit the Mayo Clinic's website.
(Cover photo: Daniel Paquet / Creative Commons)